Zimbabwe: Hate Speech Resurfaces

editorial

Photo: MDC
MDC Manifesto Launch in Marondera.

Now that the Constitutional Court has reaffirmed July 31 as the election date, campaigning for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections has officially started.

On Friday, Zanu PF launched its election manifesto in Highfield and the MDC-T is launching theirs today in Marondera. Other political parties are also expected to follow suit.

While Zanu PF and the MDC formations have co-existed peacefully in government for the past four years, that will count for nothing in the days to come unless politicians call for peace and avoid hate speech and inflammatory statements during their campaigns.

So far, it doesn't look good as President Robert Mugabe, who has preached peace and harmony in the past few months, has already reneged on his promise and is again ready to denounce his partners in government.

He chanted the chilling slogan "Pasi neMDC" (Down with the MDC) when he launched his party's manifesto. Without any provocation from Sadc, he also shamefully launched a tirade at South African President Jacob Zuma's international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu describing her as "some stupid, idiotic woman".

Vice-President Joice Mujuru weighed in by castigating so-called counter-revolutionaries and so did other Zanu PF politicians who denounced the MDC formations.

What Mugabe and his protégés did was to set the tone for a crackdown on all those who are perceived to be anti-Zanu PF. When political parties are labelled puppets of the West, counter-revolutionaries and other insulting terms, party militias get an excuse to attack, harass, beat up or murder their supporters.

In the past, such inflammatory statements encouraged militias, war veterans and other youths to target MDC supporters.

The new constitution guarantees people's right to freedom of assembly and association. The President, as the chief upholder of the constitution, has an obligation to ensure a conducive atmosphere is created for people to exercise their democratic right to choose their leaders without fear or violence if we are to have an election whose outcome will not be contested.

Hate-filled campaigns have no place in a democracy; this is hardly the message Mugabe sent out on Friday.

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